Author Topic: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!  (Read 762 times)

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Offline JasonPratt

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Was visiting Matrix's site for other reasons tonight, and ran across the first developer diary for their remake/reboot of the granddaddy of MoM successors... MASTER OF MAGIC!

https://www.matrixgames.com/news/master-of-magic-development-diary-1-june-2021

It is definitely a remake; and definitely an update; and the devs were responsible for the very quirky MoM-ish game series of Thea (The Awakening and The Shattering), which were about as unlike a MoM-style game as could be imagined. (And I mean that in a complimentary way.)

I can't say this entirely surprises me, because a few years ago Matrix acquired the rights, somehow, to the original MoM and quietly started selling it, including on Steam, with engine upgrades to work on modern computers. (And with an epic fan patch included for free.) Publishers sometimes resurrect dead or dying IPs when they're preparing a remake, and Matrix-litherine definitely have done this in the past.

My question is...... why bother anymore exactly?

MoM used to be the very devil to try to remake/redesign -- and I have no clear idea why that used to be so difficult (much like trying to remake/redesign another classic Microprose game from that era, the original XCOM/UFO, which come to think of it hasn't really been accomplished yet either). But ever since Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic (when random maps could be generated at last), the MoM successors have been making playable bug-free stable games which have not only gotten fairly close to replicating the gameplay (such as the return of multiple figures in units for AoW3), but which have gone off successfully in new variant directions (perhaps most successfully with the Dominions series since at least Dom3 when random maps could be generated at last.)

Why go back to the original anymore? Was there that much about the original which was so different and distinctive in its mix, worthy of a remake-date?


Look, I love MoM, played it to death -- I especially love how it married Civ-style gameplay (which by the way I never played at the time) with a fantasy engine which for details borrowed heavily from the early iterations of Magic: the Gathering (and indeed only a year or two later Microprose released the legendary Shandalar campaign engine for MTG -- now THERE'S something that could stand a dedicated remake-update! Why Wizards of the Coast have never bothered doing so boggles my mind...)

But... I dunno, I want to cheer them for the attempt, and I'd like it to succeed, but would I really play this game when we have so much more now?

One thing I can say in its favor, maybe: Lord knows I haven't played all the MoM successors, but out of the ones I've stuck with playing I've noticed that buffing your units with enchantments has become a pretty rare game mechanic. Whereas in MoM, if you weren't buffing your units on a regular basis, you were probably going to lose!
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Online devoncop

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2021, 11:30:11 PM »
Hi Jason

Well as someone who never played the original MoM (before my time PC gaming wise) I am looking forward to it and I guess as well as the nostalic crowd there will be a whole generation like me who have heard of the original game spoken in reverential terms and will want to see what the fuss is about.

Whilst I am no graphics junkie, the currently available versions of the old game are a non starter and I do like the images shown by the Thea devs of the new game. It may be a turkey or a triumph but I do think the interest will be there.
http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=534&t=92000

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Offline Gusington

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2021, 08:33:32 AM »
^Me too...MoM was before I owned a PC. So this remake is right up my street.
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Offline solops

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2021, 11:14:53 AM »
I still have the old game, manuals and all. If they would update the graphics, improve the AI and make it mouse friendly then they would have a hit.
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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2021, 02:01:06 PM »
I'm not so sure that they would.  MoM is on my top three of all-time favorite games, but there has been A LOT of innovation in the Fantasy 4X space since then.  Simply reskinning the graphics and updating the AI would still leave me unlikely to buy the new game, as much as I loved the original.

You don't need A TON  of innovations to make a new 4X game work, but you can't pretend like the genre hasn't evolved.  Simply leveling up my heroes and units to get more Attack and Defense won't satisfy ever since Heroes of Might & Magic invented branching skill trees 20+ years ago.  A simple "pick your tile and get x-Food and y-Resources, or x+a-Food and y+b-Resources if you build a structure" mechanic has been surpassed by games like Endless Legend or Deity Empires.  Researching spells in place of techs was a nice touch in 1995, but I'd want more than that now. 

A good sandbox mode is critical for games that rely on PvP, but most good single-player games need some kind of Campaign or story arc to enrich them (the Thea games really shined in this regard).  An end-game enemy seems to be a staple in most 4x games these days.

I'm excited that Matrix is trying  their hand at a Fantasy 4x.  The fact that they paid for the MoM title suggests that they won't skimp on resources for this.  At this stage, the IP doesn't matter too much to me one or way or another.  I figure they probably did the math and thought, "Do we get a better return-on-investment by buying the IP for this much-beloved title, or plowing that money into advertising in an effort to build a target audience for a new title?"

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2021, 03:57:47 PM »
Acquiring the MoM IP, certainly fits the marketing theory of positioning! I guess it worked with Fantasy General?

I still have the old game, manuals and all. If they would update the graphics, improve the AI and make it mouse friendly then they would have a hit.

This is indeed what they're doing, along with some UI quality-of-life. They're being VERY faithful to the content of the original game.


Matrix has had sci-fi and sci-fant 4X games before (WH40K: Gladius being arguably their biggest hit in that genre), but I'm fuzzy about whether they've had a pure fantasy 4X already. Sovereignty might count? -- but even if it did, it's so buggy it kind of doesn't?

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline FlickJax

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2021, 01:44:35 AM »
^Me too...MoM was before I owned a PC. So this remake is right up my street.

u sure ;)

Offline Myrmidon

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2021, 03:02:29 PM »
Wow, thanks for sharing!  I'm very cautiously optimistic, as I think I'd enjoy the updated experience, but have been let down by a number of proclaimed "successors to MoM" that have come and gone in the past. 


A good sandbox mode is critical for games that rely on PvP, but most good single-player games need some kind of Campaign or story arc to enrich them (the Thea games really shined in this regard).  An end-game enemy seems to be a staple in most 4x games these days.


Totally agree.  Either a decent story arc, or a very good procedural generation program that can create a world and bring it to life. I think Wizards and Warlords has done a great job bringing this to the fantasy 4x genre, along with a bunch of other great innovations.   


Matrix has had sci-fi and sci-fant 4X games before (WH40K: Gladius being arguably their biggest hit in that genre), but I'm fuzzy about whether they've had a pure fantasy 4X already. Sovereignty might count? -- but even if it did, it's so buggy it kind of doesn't?


Man, I still wince every time I see Sovereignty in my games list.  I think there was a ton of potential there that just never got polished and ironed out.  I wish there was some way the devs could have salvaged that game.  It had a lot of good going for it.  If they'd perhaps at least release some source coding, perhaps some motivated modders could save it?  I don't know.  Just wish it wasn't left in the state that it was. 

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Much to my not-entirely-surprise.... MASTER OF MAGIC by Matrix!!
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2021, 10:34:47 PM »
On further consideration, I feel like Sov might be better classified as a boardgame-like design, not a 4x per se.

So the MoM remake/update might be Matrixlitherine's first fantasy 4x after all. (Well, other than MoM itself I suppose, once they bought the rights to the original.)
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.